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They're the best and they sell. Enough said.

You see them everywhere: at the drugstore, at the mall, at the airport. You might even have them inside your home: on your bedside table, in your purse, next to the john. They're advertised on television, and some people can't stop talking about them.

No, we're not talking about tabloid magazines or prophylactics—we're talking about bestselling books.

These riveting page-turners capture the attention of the masses, but sometimes—and don't tell anyone we told you this (oh, who are we kidding, tell everyone!)—you might learn something. These books tackle the same themes as those stuffy old "classics" you've read, but with an extra injection of fun. Who needs Lord of the Flies when you have The Hunger Games? Well, there's room for both. It's like having a main course with a delicious side. But sometimes, you won't be able to tell which one's the steak (or meatless vegetarian alternative) and which one is the potatoes.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Top of What Charts?

This unit will introduce you to the world of bestsellers, familiarizing you with the most important bestsellers lists and authors, and describing the process of creating bestselling literature—from story idea to dust jacket.

Unit 2. Game of Stones—Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones

In this unit, you'll read (or reread) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and A Game of Thrones, getting to know the wonderful world of fandom through these bestselling franchises.

Unit 3. The Most Dangerous Games

It's no surprise that dystopia has a place in bestselling literature. In this unit, you'll dig deeper by reading both The Hunger Games and Ready Player One.

Unit 4. 'Cause This is Thriller

Thriller and horror are quite the combination. In this unit, you'll read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Shining, discussing the relationship between authors and their bestselling works as well as what's so intriguing about all this spooky stuff.

Unit 5. Help! We Need Somebody...To Make Sense of this History

Bestselling historical fiction has taken off recently, and this unit will tackle the genre through The Help. Along the way, we'll learn that bestsellers become even better sellers with a little controversy thrown in.

Unit 6. The Perks in Our Stars

You'll finish off by reading some Young Adult hits: The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars. Turns out everyone loves teen drama.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 3: Anatomy of a Bestseller

A bestseller doesn't magically jump from an author's brain like a bunch of gods from Zeus' skull and climb to the top of the bestseller charts.

While you're furiously flipping pages to discover the resolution to the last chapter's cliffhanger, you might think the words you're poring over just effortlessly hopped from brain to fingers to computer screen to paper to bookshelves to the top of charts. Bestselling status achieved; it's time for the author to go back and crank out another one.

This book heard we were talking about “anatomy of a bestseller” so it opened itself up for a physical examination.

[Still Life with Books by L. Block, ca. 1901]

This might be how Nora Roberts does it—seriously, that woman is magic—but for most authors, it's a much more laborious process. It doesn't just depend on skill either. It requires a heaping helping of timing, publicity, and a dash or two of luck.

In this lesson, we'll get a peek at how bestsellers are made. Well, we'll get a peek at how a bestseller is made. Like snowflakes, they might all seem the same on the surface—not that you'd judge a book by its cover—but the story behind each one is different.